Three Ways to Maintain Your Focus on CHRISTmas {Great for Homeschoolers}

We can no longer deny that Christmas is here! Because it is!

Just an aside–if I were Abraham Lincoln, I would have set Thanksgiving a couple weeks earlier. It leaves more time for the Christmas cookies decorations to be out.

3 Ways to Focus on CHRISTmas {Great for Families and Homeschoolers}

There are a few things I want to highlight that help make the season bright around here–not that Jesus’ birth needs any brightening, but sometimes our focus needs adjusting and our lenses need cleaning if you catch my drift.


Family Advent Guide: Truth in the Tinsel

Every year I tell you about this Advent program, Truth in the Tinsel: and Advent Experience for Little Hands. It’s a delightful Advent guide for the younger set, and even some of the older kids if they’re interested–my kids all participate to some extent. (I’d love to hear your suggestions for Advent activities for the older set!) My favorite part is that the readings are straight from the Bible–they’re short and sweet so the kids can all grasp them.

Truth in the Tinsel is wildly popular. There’s even a Facebook group for you to post your creations and so on and so forth–we don’t do that, because we are prefer our own group of faces. (That cheesy pun is my Christmas gift to you–no returns, no exchanges.) It’s also easily adaptable, because we adapt everything. (I really don’t like that about us, but it’s how we are.) Anyway, read my explanation of it here, see my interview with the creator of the program here, or check it out for yourself right here. If you buy through my links, you help support our Christian music mission.


Charlotte Mason Homeschool Holiday: Rediscovering Christmas

Right about now we scrap normal homeschooling for something a little more Christmasy–okay a lot more Christmasy. Jim and Sheila Carroll’s Rediscovering Christmas is our go-to and I l-o-v-e it! Not like I love my husband and my kids, but if it baked cookies for me, it would rank pretty close. It’s not worksheets and flashcards. It’s real living books, beautiful images, moving music, and more.

It’s ideal for us because my children love to snuggle down and listen to me read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (which inspired our Judah’s middle name, Ebenezer) and can spend an hour poring over books filled with Norman Rockwell’s paintings. They love to listen to the old stories and the old music and the old traditions and the beautiful old poems. They also like Phineas and Ferb, so it’s not like we’re stuck in the wrong generation or something. Wink wink.

Here’s what I especially love about this seven-week course that takes you from Thanksgiving through Epiphany (January 6): All the proceeds go to support the founders’ seven African schools. They walk the walk, people! Check them out. I get nothing if you buy this downloadable course, but the African students do. If you have questions that can’t be answered on the site, please email Sheila–she’s super helpful!



Holiday Unit Study: Christmas Comes to America

Christmas Comes to America is a fun, Christ-centered unit study that lasts four weeks. It can be downloaded instantly or you can buy the print version. It is light, so you can still fit in all your other Christmas fun, and it requires very little parent prep. One thing I know after 18 years of homeschooling is that too much prep means it ain’t gonna happen. I like that it teaches the Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament fulfillments, talks about other cultures and traditions, and includes the arts. I also like that it directs you to quality books

We are testing it for the first time this year, so I can’t give you an in-depth analysis, but you can download a free sample week here so you can try before you buy. This is an affiliate link…and yes, I bought it, too.

How do you maintain focus through the holidays?

Thanks to Anna Fox for the gorgeous photo from a Dickens Christmas fair. (Screen and text mine.) Here’s a better view:

Three Ways to Focus on CHRISTmas {Great for Families and Homeschoolers}


Truth in The Tinsel: An Interview With the Creator

Holiday shoppers are running around in a frenzy of excitement and spending, their eyes on the latest deal. Christmas trees are being put up, and all eyes are on the twinkling lights and the ornaments. Christmas baking is beginning, and hungry eyes are eyeing the sweets and treats.

Let’s pause to consider one thing: with so much distracting us during December, how can we focus all eyes on the manger?

I am super-excited to interview Amanda White, creator of Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands. She is sharing with us her ideas for using Truth in the Tinsel to focus our children and ourselves on the manger while still simplifying Christmas.

Check out Truth in the Tinsel.

Add Meaning and Simplicity to Your Advent Season: Truth in the Tinsel, An Interview with the Creator and a Discount Code

At The Simple Homemaker, we’re all about simplifying life to regain the joy in our family, faith, and, this time of year, Christmas. How does Truth in the Tinsel help maintain a simple, joyful Christmas season, despite adding another activity into a busy time of year?

Well, Truth in the Tinsel can seem overwhelming because when was the last time you did a devotion and craft with your kids 24 days in a row?! But that’s exactly why Truth in the Tinsel is such a great activity–Christmas is the best time to lead your kids to Jesus. The stores, the television and even people’s front yards are celebrating Jesus’ birth. We can either choose to go along with all their celebrations and be swept away with the craziness or choose to slow down a bit, focus on spending time with our family and on the most important story of all.

My goal in writing the book was to empower parents. I wanted to give them a tool or vehicle to tell their kids about Jesus and his birth. The book includes detailed supply lists, easy tutorials and minimal “hard work” on your part. I’ve written the hard parts so you can do the fun part!

I know you offer printable ornaments to simplify Truth in the Tinsel for busy parents. Are there other ways it’s adaptable for people who don’t have the opportunity to do this nightly? For example, some parents work odd hours or only have time on weekends. Some grandparents would love to do this, but only see the children for a few days during the holidays. And some didn’t find this terrific program until the week before Christmas, like us two years ago!

I know not everyone (myself included) can do every single activity! 24 days is a long time! So, first of all–give yourself permission to not do it every day! You will be too busy one day and that’s fine! Just pick up where you left off!

I’ve also included alternate schedules in the back of the book. There is one for just 6 days that cover each of the traditional Scripture passages. There is a 10 day version that focuses on just the people/characters of the story. And even one for 7 days that is about the prophecies about Jesus and his life.

I’d love your ideas for long-distance Advent fun with Truth in the Tinsel. Could grandparents, for example, Skype the lesson with a grandchild, and the child can color the printed ornaments and show Grandma and Grandpa on Skype the next day?

Oh my goodness, I totally love that idea! I’ve always thought it would be fun–especially with multiple kids (like do you really want 5 of the exact same ornament?!) to give your ornaments as gifts. You could deliver them to nursing homes, use them as gift toppers or even box a few up and ship them off to Grandma for her tree! And you could include photos of the kids making the ornaments!

I’m sure readers share stories with you about how Truth in the Tinsel has made their Christmases more focused and joyful. What is your favorite story?

I hear stories all the time about how kids are begging to read the Bible every day in December, how kids can tell the entire story of Jesus’ birth at just 3 years old, how parents and kids felt closer with one another after doing Truth in the Tinsel together each night, how churches brought parents together when they gave the ebook as a gift, how kids will talk about the stories and ornaments in the middle of the year and more. But one of my favorite stories is a little boy who was just 4 years old asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior because he was so intrigued and impressed with learning that Jesus came into the world to to be a light in the darkness (this is day 1 in the ebook). He recognized the own darkness in his life and asked Jesus to be the Light in his heart. How cool is that? A mama was purposeful enough to do the devotions with him, talk to him and God’s Word did what God promised–grew and produced results in that little boy’s heart. It wasn’t anything hard, just reading stories and making crafts. Who knew that could make an eternal difference?

Do you have any final thoughts for my readers, my happy crowd of simplifiers trying to make life less complicated, especially at Christmas?

Simplifying, to me, doesn’t always mean getting rid of everything and being still. Sometimes it means focusing. It means cutting off the fat, the unimportant and frivolous. I hope that’s what Truth in the Tinsel can encourage parents to do at Christmas. To cut off the frivolous parts of Christmas and put a laser-focus on the things that are most important.

Thank you, Amanda!

Add Meaning and Simplicity to Your Advent Season: Truth in the Tinsel, An Interview with the Creator and a Discount Code

Personally, my family has used Truth in the Tinsel with our seven children for two years now. Not everyone in our brood fits the recommended age, but you’re never too old or young to hear the message of the manger or to spend time together. Some of my children made fancier or simpler crafts that they improvised, and some skipped the crafts and merely listened. It was a wonderful experience, and no, we didn’t do it every day. It’s easy to pick up anywhere and jump in, just like Amanda said.

Buy Truth in the Tinsel here.

Read my review from last year here.

Please hit the share buttons and spread the word about Truth in the Tinsel. Other mamas will thank you!